Troglodytes
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Troglodyte
\Trog"lo*dyte\, n. [L. troglodytae, pl., Gr. ? one who creeps into holes; ? a hole, cavern (fr. ? to gnaw) + ? enter: cf. F. troglodyte.] 1. (Ethnol.) One of any savage race that dwells in caves, instead of constructing dwellings; a cave dweller. Most of the primitive races of man were troglodytes.

trog01.jpg (162528 bytes)trog02.jpg (191009 bytes)So says Webster's. In France there are a lot of troglodytic dwellings, most of them carved back into the soft limestone cliffs. It may have started when they dug cellars for storing wine and produce, and noticed how comfortable it was on a hot day. Somebody said "Why not just move in here?" and a trend was born. The temperature remains constant, and the walls are sturdy, but ventilation and illumination are a problem. On the left is a typical one that we saw in Amboise, complete with satellite dishes. On the right are the ruins of some above the town of La Roche-Gagéac on the Dordogne, reminiscent of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Colorado, though these may be older.

Near Saumur, in Rochemenier, there are some farms that were built underground. They are now preserved as a sort of open air museum. Think of a building site where they have dug a large square pit for the basement, and there is a ramp up one side for the trucks hauling away the dirt. That's sort of what the farmyards are like, except that they are smaller; maybe 50 feet in the longest dimension. The house, the barn, the sheds are then all dug back into the walls of this pit.

trog14.jpg (146229 bytes) trog03.jpg (113495 bytes) From ground level, you wouldn't know that there was a farm here until you were right on top of it (literally.)
trog04.jpg (140448 bytes) trog06.jpg (137457 bytes) Sheds and houses are built back into the rock.
trog10.jpg (151830 bytes) trog12.jpg (144145 bytes) Rock cut out to make a cave can then be used to build the front of the buildings.
trog05.jpg (82663 bytes) trog08.jpg (182818 bytes) Inside the caves are cool. The porous limestone keeps them from being too humid.
trog11.jpg (58552 bytes) trog07.jpg (66377 bytes) These are probably just like any other 80-year-old farmhouse except for the lack of windows.
trog09.jpg (83737 bytes) trog13.jpg (91587 bytes) The cooper's shop is where barrels are made.

The ventilation shaft is roofed over up at ground level.

 

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